For a while now I‘ve been wishing for more gender diversity in music production and music technologies design.

For starters, I compiled a list of organisations dedicated to supporting women and gender expansive people in music, and then some lists on research on related topics: more general feminist/queer approaches to technologies, and some specialised work on gender in the music industry. Below you find an annotated selection, and here is a more comprehensive bibliography (work in progress).

My use of DEI might be narrow in focussing on gender mostly, though my concept of gender is intersectional. Have some fruitful reading sessions, and if you have comments/suggestions/questions, simply drop me an email!

Organisations/ Events

just in 8 march 2024: new facts study on gender distribution among live electronic music festival acts


General Works on Gender/Feminism

Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life (2017). Everyday accounts and experiences as a feminist. The classic Feminist Killjoy material; why the need for change is often perceived as unpleasant; how to facilitate change in institutions; how to counteract the million variants of trying to push necessary change aside.

Acker, Joan. Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class, Race in Organizations (2006). Naming various forms of inequality at work places/organisations, plus how these interlock, Acker makes it possible to address these. Her concepts are used in a number of major surveys on gender in thes creative industries (Connor, for instance).

Barker/ Scheele. Gender: A Graphic Guide (2019). Easy, illustrative and highly informative graphic guide of gender topics and historic movements. Puts one faces to first wave feminism and get learned on what Butler means by „doing gender“.

Barker/ Scheele. Queer: A Graphic History (2016). Easy to follow, illustrated history of queer topics and history Who is who and what is what… This and the gender guide are super well suited for classroom work too.

Gay, Roxanne. Bad Feminist (2014). Essayistic intersectional observations of popular culture. How to like Hip Hop and be a feminist. I think her statement (paraphrased) better a bad feminist than no feminist at all really helps dismantling a 100% or nothing logic.

Hochschild, Arlie. The Managed Heart (1983). For this one I only did an excerpt on her concept of emotional labour so far – the potentially tedious work that‘s expected to be done without credit and pay – check gothshakira‘s memes in this context (billing your ex for emotional support).

Kendi, Ibram X. How To Be An Antiracist (Paperback, 2019). Chapters 14 and 15 contain everyday accounts of changing how you perceive gender from as you were brought up to something that seems more adequate to the current you/situation. Excellent antidote to some „but back then unit was also okay to…“.

Lorde, Audre Your Silence Will Not Protect You (2017). Posthumous collection of essays and poems; read „Age, Race, Class and Sex“ and grasp why not all people are in comparable social positions.

Lupton, Ellen et al. Extra Bold: A Feminist Inclusive Anti-Racist Nonbinary Field Guide For Graphic Designers (2021). Sleek and handy guide to basic theoretical aspects (equality-equity, anti-racism, feminism) and history that then continues to address inclusive forms of design and work in the creative industries. Handy pieces of advice on how to come out (if desired) at work, how to stay healthy and avoid being exploited.

Pitcher/Whelehan. 50 Key Concepts in Gender Studies (2004). Glossary with concise and clear entries. Not the newest, maybe, but sorts you out with fundamentals.

Gender and Technologies

Braidotti, Rosi. Posthuman Knowledge (2019) and Posthuman Feminism (2021). Expands the idea what what humans can be when leaving the problem areas of humanism and their inherent oppressions aside. Not only interesting in relation to Haraway‘s cyborg (think human/music studio kind of organism) but also perfect antidote to Ray Kurzweil Bs…

Cubonics, Laboria. Xenofeminsim; A Politics for Alienation (2014). Clear, dense, strong assertion of “calibrating the world otherwise” and persevering in working towards justice even where things seem immutable.

Haraway, Dona. A Cyborg Manifesto (1985). Fierce, clever and loving. Haraway describes the cyborg as a metaphoric as much as concrete form of being based on strategic alliances. How can we achieve a more equal world by leaving „natural“ relations behind.

Murray, Stuart. Disability and the Posthuman: Bodies, Technology and Cultural Futures (2023). Excellent work on cultural representations on the one hand (Huyssen‘s After the Great Divide hello!) but, more substantially, embodied realities – how does tech, our abilities and our bodies meet questions of potentials and equality?

Sofia, Z. Container Technologies (2000). Problematises container spaces (think music studios) as „female“ passive womb-like environments for hatching male ideas.

Gender and the Music Industry

Collins/ d’Escriván (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to Electronic Music (2007). Really good stuff on electronic music from its beginnings to now, yet while there are female artists represented in “statement” sections, and people like Pauline Oliver’s are mentioned, gender and related concepts are absent from this book. Reading Rodgers and Merrich’s works as a complement is absolutely recommended un less you want to miss out on essential parts of the history of electronic music.  

Conor, Bridget. Gender and Creativity: Progress on the Precipice (2020). UNESCO report on gendered participation structures in the creative industries.

Downes, Julia (ed.) Women Make Noise: Girl bands from Motown to the Modern (2012). A collection of conscientious engagements with girls/women in music that problematises its own concepts, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, I got a bit lost in particulars (and then this happened, then this happened…)

Dunbar, Julie C. Women, Music Culture: An Introduction. 3rd edition (2021). Undergraduate level text book with a variety of sections, listening examples, exercises and discussion questions. Includes chapters on “Technology in the hands of women” which offers good sections and “Women in charge of production and management” but is a bit here and & there (if this makes sense)… 

Hawkins, Stand (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Popular Music and Gender (2017). Collection of over 20 pieces by established researchers on various aspects of popular music, partly with a stronger focus on performance but also including pieces on tonality, music as business and the growing filled of transgender music studies.

James, Robin. Music and Feminism in the 21st Century (2020). Excellent and very well informed overview of various topics, from Beyoncé studies to trans-musicology, vocaloid, and safe environments. It’s freely accessible too:

Leibetseder, Doris. Queere Tracks: Subversive Strategien in der Rock- und Popmusik (2010). A tour though gender theories with illustrative examples from popular music. The latter sometimes appear more as appendices than core elements, and the conceptual approach mostly remains within representational paradigms.

Leonard, Marion. Gender in the Music Industry: Rock, Discourse, and Girl Power (2007). Discourse analysis of gender in indie music. Chapter 2 very relatable anecdotes and examples of masculinist environments in the rock genre (guitar shop dudes with aggressively competitive nerd knowledge). CH 5, 6 good stuff on Riot Grrrls.

Merrich, Johann, A Short History of Electronic Music and Its Women Protagonists (2021). A comprehensive and comfortable read that includes global perspectives (Beyond Radigue and Oram) and a substantial list of listening suggestions. Technologies are well explained yet things are not dumbed down. 

Milestone, Katie. “Northernness,” gender and Manchester’s creative industries (2016). Concrete and historically well founded account of how “ladishness” prevails as a cultural ideal as well as boon in informal hiring situations when it comes to working in Manchester’s creative industries.

Milestone/ Richards. Women’s Pop Cultural Production in Manchester (2020):

O’Brien, Lucy. She Bop: The Definitive History of Women in Popular Music. 3rd ed. (2012). Feminist music journalist with tons of insider knowledge and stories. This could have easily been a self-aggrandising anecdote fest but simply is an extremely thorough history rich in facts and very insightful remarks. 

Scott, Derek B. (Ed.) The Ashgate Research Companion to Popular Musicology (2009). Over 500 pages with various topics (including three essays on technology and studio production) that also features four pieces on gender with a rather traditional focus: back-up singing; musical camp; unruly feminine; masculinity.

Rodgers, Tara. Pink Noises: Women on Electronic Music and Sound (2010). Interview-based inquiry electronic music by women See also:

Whiteley, Sheila. Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity (2000). Well-structured history focussing on women in popular music from the 1960s onwards. The first chapters I found exceptionally observant as regards dismantling the paradoxes of libration/repression in 60s rock music. More recent formations like the Spice Girls are, I think, too easily dismissed as postfeminist blunder (O’Brien offers more substantial material here).

Wiedlack, Maria Katharina. Queer-Feminist Punk: An Anti-Social History (2015). Erudite and encyclopaedic examination of various facets of contemporary queer punk that also features long underrepresented histories of punks of colour. Argumentative, coherent, and easily readable. 

Gender and Music Technologies

Born/ Devine. Music Technology, Gender and Class: Digitization, Educational and Social Change in Britain (2015). Describes the emergence of music technology courses in Britain with 90% male participation as per 2015; contrasts this with demographic of traditional music courses and inquires into causes and possible change.

Richards, John. Shifting Gender in Electronic Music: DIY and Maker Communities (2016). Auto-ethnographic account of gendered participation structures in DIY music tech (think Atari punk console) workshops.

Rodgers, Tara. Various Freely accessible pieces: